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Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Not Our Fault that We GET Depressed--It's Our Fault that we STAY Depressed

Every now and then I try to check out the Internet for articles written about my work, or reviews on my books. I did that the other night and I'll be posting some things I found the next couple of days that I thought might prove helpful in some way. It's always good to see things from different angles. Who knows, maybe the way someone else describes some idea of mine might resonate even better with someone than the way I said it in the first place.

Depression is a Choice
by Patricia Aiken

Personal economic crises, rise of the militaristic police state, mandatory vaccination threats, IRS audits, FEMA camps and hundreds of other realities assault our mental well being daily. Some feel depression is the normal reaction to the increasingly hostile world we find ourselves facing. In addition to the economic depression we have entered, one psychologist has termed our culture The Great (Clinical) Depression. Even in financially more prosperous times, depression has been rampant.

It’s been estimated that during World War I only 1% of women ever experienced severe depression. With every generation that percentage has expanded. Women born in the 1970’s are experiencing serious depression at 12-15%.

Given the maniacal march to totalitarianism we face, it’s not difficult to understand why aware individuals would manifest one of the classic symptoms of depression- a feeling of hopelessness about the future. Behavioral therapist A. B.Curtiss and others agree that it’s not our fault that we get depressed. However, Curtiss points out that as painful and debilitating as depression can be, there are simple, drug free choices to overcome it. A memoir of her journey out of manic depression, often called bipolar disorder, is her first book, Depression is a Choice - Winning the Battle Without Drugs. It chronicles Curtiss being the third in her family to suffer from debilitating depression.
Thirty years of one psychiatric visit after another to find a solution proved fruitless. 

Drug treatment was out of the question since she had watched her father and brother being horribly diminished by them. Entering the field of psychology, as many do, seeking help for herself, she became a board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist and certified hypnotist. She found in her study of neuroscience, brain mapping and ancient wisdom the answer to her depression. Curtiss explains depression:

It is a biochemically-based physiological reality that exists in the body. Salivation is also biochemically-based physiological reality that exists in the body. We don’t have to cut out our tongue or take Prozac to stop salivating. We just have to stop thinking the thought lemon. The way we stop thinking the thought lemon is to think some other thought. Thoughts cause the chemicallybased physiological reality of salivation and thoughts can uncause it. Thoughts cause the chemically-based physiological reality of depression and thoughts can uncause it. Since we can choose what thoughts we think, that makes depression a choice.

All thoughts are bio-electrical but they cause bio-chemical consequences in the brain. Stressful thoughts of which we may or may not be aware trigger the fight-or-flight response which is supposed to lead us to forward action but ends, instead, in itself, a negative feedback-loop of escalating panic, fear and depression. But these feelings only exist in one part of our two part brain, the sub-cortex, the seat of all our instincts and feelings. In the neo-cortex, the area of our cognitive faculties, reason, language and math, there is no depression because the neo-cortex doesn’t have the capacity for any feelings, good or bad.

Historically, people have survived with brain injuries to the sub-cortex and have totally lost the capacity for any feeling. We can temporarily brain switch out of our depression by functioning from the neo-cortex instead of the sub-cortex and leave our painful feelings of depression behind.

In my own life, my upbeat, sunny disposition was naturally adequate to overcome life’s pressures. The death of parents within 47 days of each other, a painful romantic break up, a major move and an unfair job loss all cascaded together to turn my usual overriding happiness into a stormy depression. Never having experienced any depression that a quick nap or at most, a night’s sleep didn’t alleviate, I sought conversations with friends, counseling, chocolate and group therapy to no avail.

A life long book worm, I stumbled on a book in a public library entitled, The Self-Talk Solution, by Shad Helmstetter. Contained within the pages were the same type of exercises Curtiss recommends. I was shocked that it had never entered my awareness that I could have control over depression. Already in my mid-thirties and up until that time, I just went where my usually happy thoughts took me. What a relief to know I had a choice on what I thought that gave me control over how I felt. It was like crossing from the shady side of the street to the sunny side and took about as long. The only person in my therapy group not happy about my new insights was the therapist; especially when I said sayonara.

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